Wish List 2015 – Let’s Start With Some LG Love

Television

My peeps, this is where I am heading. This is where all of you with any fragment of good taste and loads of money is headed. A picture so awesome the real world appears fake!

I had myself invited to the LG Launch Event at Pearl Continental Hotel, Lahore. You know I love free stuff even if it’s just a cookie and this was actually a full on Hi Tea. So there I was in all my awesomeness. Those people had really gone all out decorating the place. Red lights, vases, stage, fancy cameras … even the one that goes on a crane-like thing … the middle-class small-town person in me was secretly bedazzled. I wonder how much it all cost. I mean a fraction of it could sponsor so many WDL workshops. Sigh.

LG Launch

Thank God, I found Fatima Rizwan (TechJuice any one?) soon as I walked in. I get nervous when I don’t know anyone at a place. Got a demo of the latest energy efficient product range. Spotlight was on the LG Battery TV. Since I don’t watch much TV and dunno what all the fancy technology behind it is so I didn’t expect to get excited but I did. The thing comes with some kinda technology where you can connect your phone to it and stream videos or music or look at pictures from the phone directly on the TV. Plus, it runs for a whole 90 minutes even without electricity. Why do you think it’s called “Battery TV”? Duh. I think that’s pretty cool.

LG Battery TV

But what got my house-wifely heart beating was the refrigerator. Now you see I have been married 12 years and that’s how long my fridge has lasted me but now it needs retirement. It DESERVES retirement. For example, last month the door came off. We had to seek help from a welder. It was painful watching the surgery. But the resilient piece of historic crap actually made it through. However considering its age something or the other is gonna pop up and kill it. So I need a fridge … got the not-so-subtle hint? And this fridge was super glam. Like it had some 4 or 6 doors and there was a door within a door. Umm … hard to explain but like you know one of the doors had an outer section that only stored water and small snacks. Dunno how to explain it but was really cool and if you need proof it was even called “Ever Cool”. :D LG peeps, are you listening? Watch this till 1:15

Oh and their split AC has an internal mosquito killer! Yes, you heard me right. It attracts mosquitoes and traps them inside it and then ‘spits’ (for lack of a better word) them outside. Fancy, eh?

And of course, near the end I had to go meet the Asian General Manager and get my picture taken with him. Wheeeeeeee

LG GM

New Year is coming up. I know a lot of you would LOVE to buy me presents. You can start with the fancy fridge and slowly build your way up to the Tuscan holiday. Thank you.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Up and About

Have my posts become a bit whiny and self-obsessed? First bit is bad but latter … I am worth obsessing over. *snort* Alright, I’ll give you some exciting, chirpy updates.

Last week I was interviewed by FM91. I had such a blast. When FM100 first started its services in Peshawar back when I was a teenager everyone was so psyched. That was the first time most of us ever used the radio on our boomboxes. The first few months the coolest thing anyone could do was get a call through to one of the programs. Very first week and my call got through. Still remember I asked for Take My Breath Away from Top Gun and dedicated it to my friend Tehmina Gilani who was crazy about Mr Scientology. Life really is funny. And guess who the RJ was? This girl who used to be a VJ back in the day when being a VJ was really cool and she used to come on the same channel as the Flavor-of-the-Century, Waqar Khan, the Pushtun Brit.

The Eye Candy

The Eye Candy

I would call the TV channel incessantly whenever he came online and YES I got to speak to him twice. *annoying teenager squeals*

My fav part of the interview was when the RJ asked what kept me going and I said it was my pushtun genes that make me stubborn and hence I go on. :D :D

with RJ Natasha of Desi Girl FMP91

with RJ Natasha of Desi Girl FMP91

Now I am Famous!

Now I am Famous!

Oohh speaking of famous, I was on CNBC!! Yeah OK so I may have tweeted that and FB-ed it a gazillion times already but don’t be haters and let me enjoy my spot in the limelight a while longer. Yeah, so the team came to Pakistan to film me. It was so cool. Loads of very fancy equipment.

I mean it took them 2 whole days to film this and it’s only like 2 and a half minutes long. RESPECT for all film-makers even those who made Creature 3D *shudder.

Also, a special shout out to all the people who helped make the video so awesome – Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) especially the DFDI department’s Saima Riaz and Asma Fakhr; Zareen Niazi, Director Ala-ud-Din Academy; Hafsa Shorish, Program Manager Plan 9; Sidra Qasim, Co-founder Markhor; and Shah Rukh, Co-founder Smartek. And of course my wonderful LCWU students whose love and respect mean the world to me. *hugs* to you all.

And of course, the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). I was invited by the Pakistan-US Alumni Network (PUAN) and the US Embassy to moderate a session on “How to become a Successful Entrepreneur”. To be honest, I didn’t know half the people on the panel. But I only need an excuse to go to Islamabad, and also I love meeting my fellow alumni, so I went. And boy was I blown over! I had 6 people on the my panel: Master Ayub, Yasmin Lari, Raza Saeed, Sean Griffith, Qurban Bibi and Rafi Imran. Of these I had only heard of Master Ayub but that’s it. I read their profiles and they all seemed very impressive. But it wasn’t till I started talking to them that I realized just how extraordinary they were. I mean there was Master Ayub who had been teaching disadvantaged kids in a street school for the last 29 years. Yasmeen Lari who has done tremendous work for the economic and social uplift of rural Sind. Raza Saeed, the guy who raised $3.5 million for his company and who spreads dollar-dust wherever he goes. Sean Griffith is a serial entrepreneur and founded Startup Cup and WeCreate. Qurban Bibi runs a training center in Chitral that she built with a micro loan. And Rafi Imran, a young student whose startup just made it into the GEW Top 50 list. MIND BLOWING! I didn’t want the session to end it was soooo fascinating.

Later, the kids wanted to take pictures with me. It was sooo sweet. It’s so humbling when a complete stranger walks up to you and tells you she is a fan. One of them told me she taught at FAST University and gave her students my example. *awwww moment* And then the best thing happened. This woman came right up on stage with a big smile on her face. She had been giving me warm smiles the whole time I was moderating the panel. Turns out she was one of the cofounders of KADO! I read this quote somewhere that appeared cheesy at the time … something about someone hugging you some day in a way that all your broken pieces are fixed. I experienced it myself. There was a warmth and sincerity and so much love in that big huge hug she gave me that made me want to just stay there forever and forget all my worries. I am telling you I am not being emo. Honestly, it was the best thing ever.

Also, I got to meet Salma Jafri, the woman I admired from afar when I first started freelancing and now admire her from not-so-far.

Dazzling!

Dazzling!

And the fantastic panel:

GEW - Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014

In other news, I met my Hunza people! Yayyyy. It was so surreal. They were here in Lahore for some conference. I wanted to hug them all and did hug the girls. Wish they could have stayed longer.

How I love them all

How I love them all

OK are you all happy now? No? Whatever!

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Either Help Me or Shut Up

I am sick and tired of people, especially young kids from KPK, asking me why I don’t work in my own province. Never mind work, why I don’t even attend any events I am invited to in Peshawar. Maybe this will help you all.

BECAUSE MY FAMILY WON’T ALLOW ME!

Did you see what happened to that teenage girl? I am not pro or anti Malala. She is a kid. And what happened to her was horrifying. But the moment she gets hit and media gets into a frenzy over it and take her to the UK all hell breaks lose. I have never read more disgusting and abusive words being spoken for a little girl whose only fault was she was trying to tell the world about the situation in Swat Valley viz-a-viz girl education. Why did that happen? ‘Coz she was a girl and it was easy to malign her. Not only pushtuns, its a national phenomenon. I went on this trade mission to the US just recently. Some FB Page posted a picture of the whole delegation. There were 3 other women besides myself. Here are some of the comments that picture received:

Capture

Yes, I am not covering any names. It’s publicly available on the FB page so why should I trouble myself. And I don’t want to translate what’s written there. All I am saying is when you have people like that who in their right mind would want to work in such a public manner? Some very brave women still do and they don’t care but they have their families supporting them or they have broken away from their families. I don’t have either and also I don’t have the courage to go ahead and work tirelessly round the clock to make things better for everyone in whatever way I can and then be publicly abused and called names. And even if I had my family’s support I still wouldn’t do it.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to work in KPK. I am going to but as Mufasa said in Lion King, “Being brave does not mean you go looking for trouble”. I am gonna do what I need to do and find a way where people won’t be able to point fingers. I already am. But doesn’t mean I am very public with it. I started a small company called The Digital League about a year ago. It has its office in Basecamp Peshawar. It employs a few local boys and also supports the co-working space. I am always open for mentoring and advise to anyone anywhere. Also, with respect to speaking engagements, if a university or college invites me for a session I will be more than happy to attend. I am doing what I can to bring WDL to KPK but it doesn’t mean I have to be the face of it – I have other plans.

If you ask me what is more important to me riches and success or honor … I will always go with honor. Call me old school, coward, hypocrite … but that’s how it is. And to those in KPK and from KPK raising fingers, please do tell how many of you have wives, sisters, daughters working in the development sector leading public lives and interacting with 100s of men on a daily basis in KP? You understand our culture better but you still point fingers – please do come up with some examples now.

YES I AM ANNOYED AND ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED SO EITHER COME FORWARD AND HELP ME OR JUST STOP BEING SO JUDGMENTAL. Or I will huff and puff and blow your house down.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Just some Tidbits

Alright peeps … you know I love you all so here is some little info from the ICT Trade Mission.

1. YouTube is NEVER getting unblocked. Nope. Got it from the horse’s mouth (funny expression, right?). Had a lively (ahem) disucssion right at the Google HQ at Mountain View. So happens that YouTube/Google has banned the blasphmous video which was why YT was blocked in dear ol’ Pakistan. NOT because YT/G suddenly becamse sensitive to Muslim feelings but because an actor in the video filed a copyright or something suit. Now PTA has no reason to keep the website blocked except that if anyone dares to give verdict in its favor some WAY BETTER Muslim than any of us will take offence and decide that person no longer has the right to live. You know what I mean? So that’s that.

2. The not-so-important ministries in Pakistan such as the IT Ministry are given away to whoever raises their hand first. ‘Nuff said.

3. Higher echelons believe we (as in Pakistanis) don’t have enough talent and hence foreign governments need to step in not only to give us monetary aid but also intellectual aid. For example, NO ONE in Pakistan knows about eGovernance so the government would like to import people who do. Ummm … I’d like to request the Pakistani government to please use google for something other than looking for stuff to ban. Thank you.

4. No one is doing business with Pakistan because we don’t have good piracy laws and the few that we do are not implemented. One point raised was about downloading movies and music. My question to them was, “I want to use iTunes and Amazon etc to buy music, ebooks, movies but we don’t have PayPal and our credit cards are not accepted online. NOT watching latest movies or listening to music is not an option. So, what choices do I have?” Was that a fair question? *Hint: Do not respond unless it’s in the affirmative.

5. Microsoft won’t come to Pakistan until we stop using pirated software. A point raised by many on the delegation: MS needs to lower its prices because when it comes to a choice between ridiculously expensive and free, guess which wins? Pakistan is a good sized market and currently we are using the software for free. If they lower the price a bit we will pay for it because who likes to see that annoying “Your copy of Windows/MS is not registered” message pop up all the time? I wouldn’t mind paying $50 for a good bundle with Outlook and Publisher.

If this gets me into trouble I promise I will write a much more detailed post ‘coz that’s how I roll ;)

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

P.S. Some ministers believe that YouTube is not relevant to a country like Pakistan and small businesses working with social media do not matter. #facepalm

ICT Trade Mission

Been back a while from my awesome possum trip to the US. Still horrendously jetlagged or maybe its the winter creeping into my ol’ bones and making me lazy. Dunno. Either way, about time I got my act together and started workign ‘coz I tell you my peeps, I got tons to do.

This blog post is not gonna be any different than previous ones. Just confused, random thoughts all over the place. But it helps me get stuff out of the way onto this digital page so I can start thinking about new stuff or put things into perspective. So here we go.

Was invited to a one week ICT Trade Mission by the US State Department. Me and a couple other women were sponsored by the US-Pakistan Women Council hence how I was there. Yes, I am still poor and can not afford a trip to Murree never mind the US. Had some big shots from the Pakistani ICT industry including minsiters, chairman this-and-that, CEOs of fancy firms. US Ambassador to Pakistan accompanied us on the mission. Actually, the whole thing was his idea. He is really keen on geteting trade dialogue going between the 2 countries. Great guy except that he was at Google HQ in Mountain View and it was his first time and he was completely calm!! How can you not be excited about being inside Google? I asked what would get him as excited as us  and he said a trip to the beach. But why, I ask you? You can Google the beach! Oh well … !

10502009_10152528756143621_8278686722985949503_n

Spent 2 days in Washington DC. Stayed at the same hotel I did 3 years ago while on Artemis/10k. Missed the girls terribly. Walked through rain to the National Mall, visited Capitol Hill, went to the Smithsonians – and did all of this in my kolhapuris. I AM INVINCIBLE! And just in case you don’t know what a kolhapuri is:

Kolhapuris

Met Saba Ghouri at the State Department. I almost cried. Had been reminiscing about her just an hour ago with a friend and telling her how she was in Islamabad these days. And in she walked. Got to meet new director of US Pak Women Council, new director Econ at US Embassy Islamabad, had a great meeting with Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell.

Had my dream come true as we flew to San Francisco to spend 4 dreamy days at Silicon Valley. I DIED of excitement. Visited Stanford, almost got run over by the campus bus, had a mouth-gaping-wide-open lecture by 2 professors, decided I love the academia more than any other specie, was given a personal tour of the campus by one of the professors. It was one of those moments when your faith in God multiplies by a gazillion times and its reaffirmed that He listens to everything I say to Him but He waits for the right moment to grant you your wish.

Went down to Microsoft and Google and Oracle HQs for meetings. They were all great but somehow they paled in comparison to Stanford.

Here is the earliest adapter of Google Lollipop. :P

I am the earliest adapter of Google Lollipop. :P

Forgot to nick this for brags but glad I got this photo at least.

Forgot to nick this for brags but glad I got this photo at least.

Junglee in Stanford - see that bus behind me? It almost ran me over coz I didn't wait to check if there was anything behind me. Almost the most embarrassing moment of my life.

Junglee in Stanford – see that bus behind me? It almost ran me over coz I didn’t wait to check if there was anything behind me. Almost the most embarrassing moment of my life.

Take aways:

- Made acquaintance of some wonderful people who accompanied us on the trade mission. Got to know others I knew from before more closely and some misconceptions were removed.

- Stanford tops Google.

- Academia tops programmers and coders and CEOs.

- I know about entrepreneurship … 6 years have taught me a lot.

- Being friendly comes naturally but putting people in their place early on when they get out of line is important.

- Jet lag sucks.

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Harsh Reality

Just received this message on Facebook and I feel it merits a blog post.

Judgmental much 1

Judgmental much

First line of second image roughly translates into, “It’s people like you who can’t handle the honor Allah bestows on them.

I am not sure what to think of it. Don’t know this guy at all. He added me on FB and I accepted the friend request. As I have done with countless others. That’s all. Also, I don’t know the guy he asked me to reach recommend him to. He also just happens to be on my FB. Are people really naive enough to think that just because someone is a part of your social media network you are actually buddies? And then he goes on to insult me saying there is something wrong with my family background and I am putting obstacles in other people’s way to success!!!!

Sighhhh … this is JUST ONE of such examples. And I am choosing to talk about it because I need my FB/Twitter/LI/Pinterest/SoundCloud ‘friends’ to understand unless we talk on quite a regular basis and know each other professionally I am sorry but I can’t recommend you for a job. Can’t walk up to a friend and say “Hey, this stranger approached me and he wants a job. Give it to him.”

Also, my Gmail and FB ‘Other’ folder is chock full. I try respond to as many people as I can if their message merits a reply but if I don’t see your email and I don’t respond, it’s nothing personal. I am a wife, a mother, a businesswoman and a very faulty human being – some times I just don’t have the time or energy.

On another note, I am very open on social media. I talk about fun, mundane every day stuff instead of posts about how wonderful I am and how busy I am with my work. It helps me relax and keeps me grounded. But at the same time if you are going to come up with negative comments like, “Oh, you should clearly mention a job that’s advertised by WDL is for women only”, and start a solo thread of comments don’t expect me to be good-natured about it. It’s WOMEN’S Digital League – how much more clarity do you need?

And YES I AM ANNOYED. I AM TIRED AND I AM STRESSED AND I CAN’T SLEEP AND I GOT A THOUSAND AND ONE THINGS TO DO WHICH I HAVE NO CLUE HOW I AM GOING TO MANAGE AND I WORRY ABOUT MY PARENTS WHO ARE FAR AND ARE NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER AND I HAVE FRIENDS GOING THROUGH SOME VERY TROUBLED TIMES. So I am sorry if my being human is such an inconvenience to people but that’s who I am and that’s never going to change. THANK YOU!

Bye

Orientation on Digital Livelihood, Going Dutch, Monsoon, and other stories

LCWU DFDI OrientationHad a great orientation on Digital Livelihood at the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU). Being there makes me feel old. GOD! College for me was ages ago. Graduated in 2000. But I digress. So went and told them my story, gave them an idea about working online, an idea of why it was important for women to work. Note to self: I need to work more on it – make it tighter and more focused so I am not running around in circles. Had a healthy turnout. Let’s see how many actually register. You can see album from the orientation here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.658595287580704.1073741924.234046770035560&type=1 

 

Met with my Dutch journalist friend. She ran the story she did last time she was here. It’s in Dutch of course but she said she would share links which of course I will share with you all my lovelies. Amazing how similar people are everywhere. All these differences of religion and culture are in our heads. I mean this woman is from Netherlands. A journalist, a divorcee, with an adopted daughter. On the surface we have nothing in common. But underneath the layers of skin color and clothes and language we are so much alike. Guess when you put away prejudices and preconceived notions and give people a real chance that you see a common thread of humanity. People are born good. It’s time and experiences that turn us more one way or the other. Another note to self: Don’t judge people by who they pretend to be – give them an honest chance. 

The monsoon in Lahore has been CRAZY. Thankfully our house didn’t get flooded but all the ceilings started to leak to an extent that I was scared of turning on the lights in case there is a short circuit. Government and political parties too busy participating in the circus in Islamabad. Lahore, the city that the provincial government promised to turn into Paris, ended up becoming Venice. Case in point … 

Lahore turns into Venice

WDL is giving a scholarship to this AH-MAZING online entrepreneurship mentoring course. ‘Young Entrepreneur Mentorship’ is a 3-semester mentoring program spearheaded by Sandi Krakowski. Sandi is the President & Founder of A Real Change International, Inc. She is also one of the most sought after marketers in the world, specializing in social media, copywriting and digital media. She has homeschooled all 3 of her sons, and has personally mentored many young people who have created a 6-figure income online in under 24 months.

The scholarship is worth $497 and is open for all women between the age of 16 and 25 who are interested in starting their businesses or want to take their business to the next level. More details available at http://www.arealchange.com/blog/young-entrepreneur-mentorship-opens-week

If you or someone you know is interested and exhibits qualities like leadership, passion, perseverance and a strong will to help others then please write to query@womensdigitalleague.com with “The Young Entrepreneur Mentorship” in the subject line. 10 shortlisted women will be interviewed by moi for the spot. Selected person will have to volunteer with WDL for 3 months after the program. 

OK … that’s all folks. 

Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee